Ex-trooper pleads guilty in beating of driver after chase

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NASHUA, N.H. (AP) — A former New Hampshire state trooper caught on video beating a man who led officers on a two-state car chase was given a deferred jail sentence Thursday after pleading guilty to three simple assault charges.

Then-trooper Andrew Monaco was arrested in July on charges stemming from his use of force in the arrest of Richard Simone Jr. on May 11, following a 50-mile pursuit from Holden, Massachusetts, to Nashua, New Hampshire. Video captured by a TV news helicopter shows Simone stepping out of his pickup truck, kneeling and placing his hands on the ground as officers assault him.

Assistant Attorney General Susan Morrell said Monaco punched and kneed Simone 12 times in 20 seconds. But Morrell said a deferred and suspended 12-month sentence was appropriate given Monaco's instant remorse and willingness to take responsibility.

Monaco told a supervisor at the scene he knew his actions were wrong; he resigned from the police force a few days after his arrest. As part of his sentence, the 32-year-old Monaco agreed to perform community service, receive anger management counseling and never work in law enforcement again.

"When you talk about events around the country, there are very few, if any police officers who've stood up in court, admitted what they did was wrong, what they did was a crime and what they did should disqualify them from being a police officer," she said.

Joseph Flynn, 32, of the Massachusetts State Police, also faces charges in the case. A pre-trial conference is set for October.

Monaco was a state trooper for four years. In a brief statement Thursday, he apologized to his fellow officers and the public, but not to Simone. He said he could not explain why he behaved in a way he had always promised himself he would not.

"I was unable to separate the events that occurred during the pursuit from my conduct during the arrest," he said.

An attorney for Simone, who is jailed in Massachusetts on several driving-related charges, said Monaco deserved to spend time behind bars. He described lingering health problems his client endures, including blurry vision, and said the sentence sends a message that there are two sets of rules, one for the public and one for police officers.

"He's (Simone's) explained to his daughter that he broke the law and he has his punishment coming," attorney Joe Comenzo said. "But he's having a very hard time explaining to her how this trooper is going to walk out of this court room today. She saw this police officer brutually beat up her dad for no apparent reason, and he doesn't know how to explain it."

Attorney General Joseph Foster disagreed, saying many first-time offenders do not serve jail time for simple assault nor do they lose their careers, as Monaco did.

But Comenzo said Monaco's willingness to relinquish his law enforcement credentials were likely a moot point given that he'd probably not be able to get another police job since the video was widely circulated. As for Monaco's community service requirement, Comenzo told the judge, "He had a community service job, your honor. He was a police officer."

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